The developers of the Vreed-en-Hoop Shore Base on the West Coast of Demerara have assured residents in the area there will be no disruptions to their livelihood.
But with that assurance is also a commitment to ensure that fisherfolk affected by phase one of the project – the dredging of the Demerara River – will be compensated.
The shore base is being undertaken by Vreed-en-Hoop Shorebase Incorporated (VEHSI), a joint venture between NRG Holdings – a consortium of local businesses, and Jan De Nul – an international maritime infrastructure company.
The consortium comprises three local businessmen: Andron Alphonso, Azruddin Mohamed, and Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer.
During a public meeting on Saturday at the Regional Education Office in Region Three, Alphonso told residents that NRG has decided to compensate fishermen who are not registered with the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture. The meeting focused on the construction of roads for the project and near-shore dredging in the Demerara River.
“Right now, in conjuncture with the [Fisheries Department] right now in that zone we have about seven owners, some of these owners have many fishing pens but the ownership in that area is about seven.
“We are also willing to speak with persons who are not registered with [Fisheries Department] but operating in that same area,” Alphonso said in response to questions raised about the affected fishermen.
Compensation will also be in the form of employment opportunities for affected persons.
Alphonso noted that NRG will assist in the development to cushion any disruption of Vreed-en-Hoop.
“I live here, I have kids here and I want them to walk anywhere in this country with their heads held high and no one can say we destroyed their livelihood.
“We are here to develop there will be challenges but we just want to let everyone know we are dedicated to overcoming those challenges and working with the affected persons,” Alphonso said.
Phase one of the project entails deepening, widening, and dredging of 100 – 125 metres wide and 7 – 10 metres deep access channel in the Atlantic Ocean.
During the meeting on Saturday, it was revealed that further dredging works will begin within the next 2-3 weeks from the western part of the Demerara River mouth towards the shore base.
Meanwhile, NRG will also be upskilling residents in the area.
According to Alphonso, certain aspects of the project will require specialised skills and those persons will come from Yan De Hul from overseas.
“But as many as the semi and unskilled aspects of the work we will be looking to do 100 per cent of that with people from the community,” Alphonso said.
Meanwhile, Adonica Spelling, Community Liaison Officer for NRG related how they can report any grievances or issues they might encounter as it relates to the project.
Individuals, communities, groups, businesses and organisations can visit the company’s website, fill out an online form and they will be sent an acknowledgment letter and then receive a response in 20 days.
Spelling explained that based on the number of the complaints, the response can be before or after 20 days. If residents are not satisfied with a decision made, that decision can also be appealed.
Apart from the website, residents can use the ‘Drop Box’ option to report issues. These boxes along with the forms will be at the Regional Democratic Office, the Vreed-en-Hoop Post Office, and the West Demerara Regional Hospital.
Persons can also file complaints via Whatsapp messages.
NRG will also be embarking on a Mangrove clean-up activity, and the development of a playground that they believe will improve the lives of persons in the area.